The Reds announced to reporters, including Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, that they have claimed outfielder Bubba Thompson off waivers. He had been designated for assignment by the Twins last week. In order to open up a spot for Thompson, the Reds designated right-hander Levi Stoudt for assignment.
Thompson, 26 in June, has been on the roster carousel for the past six months. Designated for assignment by the Rangers in August, he has since gone to the Royals, Reds, Yankees, Twins and now the Reds again on waiver claims. The high level of interest is a reflection of his elite speed and strong defensive abilities, while his tenuous hold on a roster spot is a result of his poor work at the plate.
He received 241 plate appearances with the Rangers over the past two seasons, walking in just 4.6% of them while striking out at a 29.9% clip. His .242/.286/.305 batting line translates to a wRC+ of just 65, indicating he’s been 35% worse than the league average hitter. He’s been better in the minors but still subpar. In 740 trips to the plate at Triple-A since the start of 2022, he has a 7.4% walk rate, 24.1% strikeout rate and .283/.346/.442 batting line for a wRC+ of 96.
But he’s one of the fastest runners in the game, with Statcast considering him to have 100th percentile sprint speed. He has 22 steals in 27 attempts at the major league level and dozens more in the minors. That speed has helped him earn strong defensive grades during his time in the big leagues.
He still has two option years and is clearly attractive to clubs around the league, either as a depth piece getting regular at-bats in the minors or a speed-and-defense guy off the bench. The Reds like him enough that this is the second time they have claimed him of late. He could wind up off the roster again in short order, but if he sticks, he’ll be fighting for a spot on their depth chart. They will have TJ Friedl, Will Benson, Jake Fraley and Stuart Fairchild in their outfield mix, while their crowded infield could push guys like Spencer Steer and Jonathan India to the grass.
Stoudt, now 26, came to the Reds as one of the players in the 2022 Luis Castillo trade. He was a prospect of note in the M’s system but his results have not carried up to the higher levels of the minors or to the majors. He got a brief MLB debut last year, throwing 10 1/3 innings with 11 earned runs allowed. His 82 1/3 Triple-A innings resulted in a 6.23 ERA, 15.1% strikeout rate and 13% walk rate.
It was obviously a challenging year for him and he’s now been squeezed of the Reds’ roster. They will have a week to find a trade for him or pass him through waivers. He still has a couple of options and there are lots of club in need of pitching, which could perhaps help him find a new club in the coming days.